Edmonton, May 28-30, 2023

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The peculiar history of thornapple, the hallucinogenic weed that ended up in supermarket spinach

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Back in Australia

Plants from the Daturagenus and the closely related, woody cousin, angel’s trumpet, are widely grown for their decorative flowers around Australia. Occasionally some people deliberately consume them for their hallucinogenic effects, with misadventure requiring medical intervention not uncommon.

Every year, poisons centres and emergency departments around the country are involved in managing these recreational overdoses.

Accidental overdoses, such as the one affecting the baby spinach crop, are less common but not unheard of. One such outbreak was reportedin Italyearlier this year.

Unfortunately, thornapple is a hardy plant, with seeds that can reputedly last several decades. Without constant agricultural vigilance, contamination of plants meant for human consumption remains a possibility.

For those not anticipating the effects, poisoning can be quite disturbing, not just from the obvious physical effects, but from the disconcerting hallucinations. Fortunately, the treatment of such exposures, once identified, is usually relatively straightforward.

Given the characteristic toxidrome, and the efficiency of modern poisons information centres, outbreaks and sources can be identified very rapidly, and the public protected from further exposure, as has been the case here.

This post was originally published by our media partner here.